Ok, so maybe we don’t need to be a nation of pop-stars, but it got your attention didn’t it?
I feel like there is a key element missing in our declaration of unalienable rights, the right to be proud of our country.
… but, there is some fine print. If you want to be proud, you have to help work for it.
We should have the right to be proud of country. But, due to the increasing amount of bigoted radicals (on both sides) in all sectors of politics, those of us who are less extreme, more logical and reasonable, have been marginalized. While I know I’m only one person. I would venture that the vast majority of our country identifies with what I’m saying. If you like me feel, like you love America, but hate the way America is depicted, it’s time to stand up and make a difference.
American: No Longer a Dirty Word
It’s interesting to compare my two trips living in Spain. The first, in 2007, at the height of global military tensions … cough, Bush … was a very different world. While preparing to leave, several travel prep sources advised against letting people know you were American. They said, that if asked, you should tell people you are Canadian. Some people even advised putting Maple Leaves on your luggage to make sure it arrived safely. It was an exaggeration, or at least it stemmed from isolated events, but there was no shortness of evidence that people really didn’t like the American government.
Everywhere we went, anti-bush and anti-war graffiti adorned every street. When talking with people, they weren’t as vengeful as they were made out to be. Everyone I talked to was able to differentiate American from the current American Government.
But, all of these experiences left a lasting impression on me. I noticed that some accusations were true. When I returned, I read headline after headline of bias, hatred, and misunderstanding throughout our country. The worst part was that a voice and a face were created by the media. The face was that of an overfed, over-cheerful or else angry, extremely religious, stereotypically white America. The voice was patriarchal, uneducated, un-empathetic, selfish, consumeristic, divinely right (even when obviously wrong), paranoid America. I believe that I reacted in a similarly to many people. I distanced myself from identifying as American. The more I did, the more the word “unAmerican” was thrown around. This may be the greatest misnomer of our time. It was often used in a tyranical, totalitarian way. Every utterance of discontent, or critic was branded “unAmerican.” The true un-American activity was trying to silence others. It is after all, one of the greatest freedoms granted us. But, the another is not far behind – allowing someone to silence us, and on our own soil nonetheless.
Coming back to Spain has been a different story. Things are much different traveling abroad. On my trip to Egypt, my guide was eager to show me where Obama had spoken. They not only greeted us (exuberantly) as Americans, but they had many thoughtful and inspiring questions. Here in Spain, I have yet to see negative graffiti aimed at our nation. However much progress has been made abroad, they don’t understand our internal problems. Healthcare, education, poverty, civil rights and many other issues continue in our Nation. We need to go even further.
Yes, I am going there. Let’s make America what it really is a diverse, wonderful, and culturally embracing country. Inspired by the recent progress our country has made in turning of Beck, and shying away from religions pushing political agendas, there is much we can do.
1. Be proud again. Yes, we can both acknowledge our shortcomings, and celebrate our successes as a country.
2. Take back “American.” Don’t allow people to brand things as “un-American,” especially when the reverse is true.
3. Be heard. Learn from the frenzied hate groups. Give up the loudspeaker and posters, and take up reading and a ballot.
4. Talk to the other side. When they’re not yelling in your face (too loud to be heard), they may have a legitimate point. Finding a way to talk is as important as what you have to say.
5. Be seen. Remember the days when you wore red, white, and blue. The days of 4th of July, picnics, and patriotism. They still can exist. Bring it back.
6. And again, be proud. Democracy is about making your voice heard, but also hearing everyone’s. To be proud again, we have to make this nation one we can be proud of. Research laws, your representatives, etc. Gather information from all sides. Be objective, and our nation will again rise to a place in which we not only can be proud, but will be proud.